The Bilingual Primary School Brighton and Hove has been given planning permission for a new site on the edge of Hove Park.
The plans were approved unanimously by the Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee at Hove Town Hall this afternoon (Wednesday 4 June).
The school hopes to move to the two-storey building in September next year and will be contributing more than £150,000 to local road improvements.
The council is expected to receive £2.25 million for a lease on the site which was previously used as a depot and store.
Ward councillors Vanessa Brown and Jayne Bennett objected to the scheme on traffic and parking grounds.
Councillor Bennett said: “There are already two large secondary schools in the vicinity causing traffic problems which the council can’t solve.”
Local objector Roger Crouch said: “The biggest problem we have with this school would be the huge amount of extra traffic it would bring.”
He predicted rush-hour chaos and estimated 147 cars arriving between 8.55am and 9.10am even though the school doesn’t start until 9.20am.
He said that 65 per cent of pupils attending to Aldrington CE Primary School to school by car and that the bilingual school had a wider catchment.
And he warned of the future impact of Toad’s Hole Valley of it is developed. He added: “Allowing BPS to have a school in Hove Park will clog up Goldstone Crescent.”
Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, the Planning Committee chairman, said: “Like you, I am concerned about the impact of traffic on this area.”
The school, which opened in September 2012, is currently temporarily housed within the Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA) in Falmer but the oversubscribed school is rapidly outgrowing the premises.
Councillor Dee Simson had reservations about the amount of space for children to play.
And Councillor Bob Carden asked what steps were being taken to protect badgers in the area.
The school’s head teacher Carolina Gopal said that she would love to have more play space for pupils. She added that she had requested webcams so that the children could learn more about the badgers which were being protected.
She said: “Our school is about to enter its third year. Pupils are thriving. The community spirit is second to none. Standards are above local and national averages. We now need our own home.
“We have been working closely with the council to help meet its duty to provide enough school places for pupils in the city.
“We have worked closely with the council to identify a suitable site and we have consulted residents.
“Our original plans met more opposition than we expected so we listened, withdrew our application and went back to the drawing board – and we have come back to you with a scheme which addresses the original objections.
“We understand the worries about increased traffic and parking. Our staggered start time from 9.20am falls outside the rush hour so we will not be having the impact that some people may imagine.
“We have worked hard to ensure our plans comply with the council’s transport policies. It will take almost 10 years before we reach capacity so there is plenty of time to adjust our travel plan if the need arises.
“We already operate a ‘park and stride’ policy at our temporary home as there is no on-site parking for parents. Our parents are extremely co-operative and will support our approach to sustainable travel.
“I am very familiar with Hove Park and the surrounding streets. I can reassure you that Goldstone Crescent does not have a parking problem when our school day starts nor when it ends.
“If some parents come by car, they will be parking briefly – and will not present the kind of problems associated with City Park.
“This is, as I am sure you appreciate, a brownfield site and a school makes really good use of the area.
“As the conclusion to the report before you today states: ‘The principle of the redevelopment of the site as a school is acceptable.’
“A new school brings significant public benefits and these must be weighed against any potential impact.
“Section 106 funds will bring road and pavement improvements nearby – and the scheme will also generate local jobs.
“Our travel plan will be closely monitored and reviewed to deal with concerns about transport issues.
“I would therefore ask you to support this application – not just for the benefit of children in Brighton and Hove and the local economy, but also on sound planning grounds.”
Councillor Lynda Hyde said that it was a controversial application. She was concerned about traffic levels but comforted by the staggered start and end times for children.
She said that it was good that section 106 agreement money would lead to improvements in The Droveway and Hove Park for pedestrians.
Councillor Hyde said that the travel plan and possible parking problems could not be compared with those related to Legal and General on the neighbouring City Park site.
Parents would park briefly, not all day, she said. And Waitrose, she was sure, would welcome parents as customers.
Finally, she said the acute shortage of school places in the area had to be addressed.
Councillor Ian Davey said that finding a site for a new school was challenging. Having to drive children across the city unnecessarily was unacceptable.
Transport will because challenge, he said, but many would be able to walk or take the bus. And some older children would be able to cycle.
He also hoped that some parents would park in the Goldstone Retail Park if they chose to drive.
Councillor Alex Phillips, who said that she was not pro free schools, was concerned about the loss of an elm tree but felt the site was well screened.
She was also pleased about the choice of site and how it could help ease the shortage of school places in her ward, Goldsmid.
Councillor Mike Jones said that neighbours’ concerns were not unreasonable and that he had reservations about the site.
He was perturbed by criticisms that children might play in the park, he said. But on balance he felt that the benefits outweighed any harm.
Councillor Les Hamilton said that it was a public park and children should be allowed to play there. He said that the plans were not ideal but overall he felt that they should be supported.
Councillor Penny Gilbey criticised the design but backed the plans.
Councillor Mac Cafferty said that he understood the reservations about transport and the design. Weighing things up, though, he believed that the public good meant providing school places.
The committee voted unanimously in favour to grant planning permission.
LIKE WHAT WE DO? HELP US TO DO MORE OF IT BY DONATING HERE.